Both our heads were elsewhere when the guy who looked like Jason Robards
and I backed into each other in the Max-Mart lot. We sprang from our cars
out into the rain ready to be righteous and were amazed to find no damage,
not a scratch on either car! Both of us were certain we’d heard the sickening
sound of crinkling auto bodies. Robards’ doppelgänger said it was uncanny, a
sign that he should head directly to the casino. My phone was ringing as we
shook damp hands and parted.
The call was my ex-wife telling me her bookcase just collapsed and The Book of
Lost Connections had tumbled to her feet. She’d called immediately to say the
author had inscribed it to me and I needed to come get it. I lied and said I had
I remember starting to read it. It talked about how things hold together when
they shouldn’t, such as quarks, ions, dark matter, and they form Saturn’s rings
or styrofoam or the synapses of a false memory. It went on about synchronicity,
telepathic horses, I forget what else before I lost interest.
A few months later she called again and started talking about her wasting
illness. She was always fatigued and losing weight. She suspected she’d
breathed-in disease spores in the risen dust of that collapsed bookcase. Right
off I knew my distracted driving and the uncanny luck I shared with Robards’
dead-ringer must have caused her bookcase to fall.
Ever since the inexplicable crash, I’d been hearing slight tinkling chimes, like
an ocotillo rainstick. I took it as a sign. I agreed to meet my ex in a café so she
could give me my book back.
When we met she said her diagnosis was Valley Fever, the same disease that
had killed my father. I listened to her go on about her bad luck (which I knew I
was responsible for) and she gave me back my book, which I’ve since lost track
of. The last I knew it was in the back of my car.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 21, Issue 3.
See all items about Donald Levering